Now that the Lance Stephenson and LeBron James rivalry has come to an end and yet another disappointing loss for Lance and the Indiana Pacers, we look back on another playoff feud that took place 12 years ago today.
In this particular series, we were presented with a first-round matchup featuring the Los Angeles Lakers led by 3-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, and the high powered-offense of the Phoenix Suns behind league MVP Steve Nash.
This series was filled with a ton of noteworthy moments that made for an entertainingly great string of basketball, but none were more memorable than the infamous clothesline by Raja Bell on ‘The Black Mamba.’
With the game slipping away from the Lakers early in the 4th quarter, Raja Bell took an elbow to the jaw from a frustrated Kobe Bryant while trying to create space above the key.
Though Raja might’ve exaggerated the hit a little, this was enough to get him triggered and give Bryant a taste of his own medicine. So Bell did just that, and then some.
A few possessions later, Kobe and Bell were alone at the top of the key. One-on-one, mono-e-mono. Right where Kobe wanted him… or in this case, right where Raja Bell wanted Kobe. The rest is history.
Unfortunately for Bell, he would get ejected from the game and suspended for game 6, but it wouldn’t matter because the Suns would go on to win the series in 7 games as the Lakers would blow their 3-1 lead.
As for how he felt about Bryant after the game, Bell went on to call him “a pompous and arrogant individual. I have no respect for him.”
Though no one knows what Raja Bell is up to these days, we will always remember the time he clotheslined one of the games greatest players and sparked a rivalry for years to come. This one’s for you Raja, wherever you are.
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